Group Certification – Internal Control System (ICS)

Jörg Rosenkranz

Following the “normal” inspection and certification procedure in “developed countries” every (farm-) unit has to be inspected and certified individually by an accredited, competent and independent certification body. This would be uneconomical for most small-scale producers in the south. More than half of the imported agricultural goods entering the EU origin from such smallholder based production. The cost for individual inspection and certification of each producer would endanger an export-oriented production of organic goods in less developed countries.

Therefore a Group Certification Scheme became the common tool for such smallholder producer organizations. Cases of successful group certification range from groups with some tenths to some thousands of farmers. One condition for group certification is to set up an Internal Control System (ICS), which ensures that all individual farmers of the group are inspected regularly and that the findings of these internal inspections are accurate and well documented. At least once a year, locally trained “internal” inspectors (who may be part of the project) carry out internal inspections and document the results using standard inspection formats/ questionnaires.